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Interviews as a Research Method: Dig Deep into an Issue, Follow Up for Clarification, Analyze for Major Themes


It is vitally important that you pre-test your focus group before administering it to your research sample.  Pre-testing is the opportunity to see whether you have selected the right type of moderator guide format, whether certain questions work better than others, and whether there are new questions or topics that should be added.

Since focus group research is really about getting the perspective of a particular group, it can be difficult at times to figure out how the actual focus group will play out.  Still, the first thing to do is to talk through the survey by yourself and a friend or colleague.  Next, you want to try the focus group out on a few others – ideally you would like to try it out first on people who from or similar to the population that you plan to study, but if this is not possible, you could organize a group of friends or colleagues to take on the perspective of the type of people you will be interviewing and try to react as they think they might.  Give them a name, age, and a bit of a backstory about why they are taking part in the focus group.  This can actually be a lot of fun and can really give you a sense of what needs to be improved upon!  Take notes on and revise the moderator guide design if things do not seem to be going smoothly.   

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